There is this weird stigma when it comes to the idea of self-care. For most people, the very words summon up visions of eating chocolate, taking bubble baths, and indulging in activities seen as vain and selfish. This viewpoint needs to change. What self-care really means is to do the things that are necessary to lead a happy and productive life.
Everyone’s needs are different. Like me, some people have trouble sleeping at night. Some people might suffer from a lack of energy, especially in the afternoons. Some people might fight cravings for junk food and sweets constantly. Some people might suffer from depression which makes it almost impossible to do everyday tasks. My point is, your needs will not look like everyone else’s needs.
What works wonders for one person might actually make your situation worse. Personally, I find my self-care needs become far more time consuming in the winter than in the summer. The moment the days start getting darker, my energy begins to flag, my anxiety increases, and sleep issues become a more persistent problem. The drive to complete all the things on my various to do lists is just not there.
In the clinical world, this is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). You are literally affected by the change in the seasons. It’s mother nature’s way of getting a final jab in before hibernating for the long winter. She’s still irritated at the invention of the light bulb.
My self-care routine
Part of my winter self care routine this year stems from the tiny midlife crisis that kicked off a few weeks ago when I turned 40. All of the sudden getting in regular exercise and eating my vegetables seemed so much more important. This is the only body I’m going to get, if I’m not maintaining it in such a way that it runs well for me, then I’m setting myself up for a massive breakdown in the future. Something similar happened when I turned 30 and I realized that if I wanted to do anything with my life other than be a mom, I would need to start doing it.
Starting in early October, I pull out my happy light and use it in the morning while I’m working at my desk. It helps wake me up and simulates the natural sunlight I would have experienced in the summer and makes my brain generate more serotonin during the day and melatonin at night. I also get far more diligent at taking my vitamins. Currently I take a general multivitamin, calcium citrate, B-complex, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. All of these are necessary in maintaining healthy brain chemicals and aid in better energy production.
I also aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. Some of it is while watching Netflix and using an elliptical, or if the weather is nice, going out for a walk. On alternating days I turn on Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. If you are looking for a darling down-to-earth yoga practitioner who excels at making yoga accessible to anyone, check her out.
The other two things I do are regular journaling and meditation. Journaling helps me to analyze things that I would like to find solutions to, while meditation helps calm down the brain chatter and helps me focus on the things that are important and need doing. After exercise, these two practices do more to help me counteract daily stress than anything else.
Does this mean everything in my life is perfect right now? No, it really isn’t. But when I’m diligent at keeping up my self-care, my tools to handle problems are kept sharp and well maintained.
What do you do for self-care? I would love to hear about activities and practices you’ve put in place to help you feel better about yourself.
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Creatives attract other creatives like the last cheerios in a bowl of milk. Today’s creative, C. Michelle Jefferies, redefines what it means to incorporate creativity into her own life by pursuing everything that sparks her interest – from writing assassin fiction to hand dying meditation wraps.
Michelle and I met at a writing retreat years ago and became fast friends over talk of yoga and the best ways to kill people in fiction. While we don’t see each other often, it’s a real treat to spend time together. Nowadays, we tend to cross paths while teaching at different writing conferences.
On to the interview!
First, a getting to know you question. If you had one million dollars and 24 hours to enjoy it, what would you do with it? (and why?)
I would buy a piece of land, with lots of room for gardens, trees and a pond to do paddle board yoga in. And hire someone to build my dream house, with a dye/workroom and retreat space for people to come and do conferences and retreats. I would love a place that I could dye and make stuff in that could be cleaned with a hose and mop. Instead of my kitchen. 🙂
You are perhaps one of the most chaotically creative people I’ve ever met. What are three creative things you do that most people don’t know about?
Hehehehehehe, how appropriate that title is.(chaotically creative) Can I use it for my business cards? [Yes! Go for it.] Well, I have a lot of passions. And I imagine most everyone knows I love dye, soap making, and book binding. But probably not that I have been looking at making shoes for a while. Or that I have sewn clothes and knitted for years. And I love hand building ceramics since high school. Or that I have become obsessed with growing certain plants in my flower bed.
I think the best way to describe me is that I am a maker. I see things and either want to make them for myself, or I get this desire to deconstruct the process to understand it and do it myself. I spent last fall studying what plants in my area I can make paper from, and how to make paper and cotton thread. Or that I’ve researched how to take an animal hide and make rawhide and leather. Or to use the hooves to make glue. This week is ink making week. Next week is paper making. I’m fascinated with process. (You should see my office! It’s like the (craft supply) room of requirement in Harry Potter!)
My goal this summer is to make a book from scratch. From the paper inside to the leather and rawhide thread for binding it. I’ve even researched making my own needles for sewing it. As well as the ink and dip pens to write in it. (and charcoal pencils, oil paints, water color paints, paintbrushes, etc.)
What has been your favorite project/series to work on and why?
Project wise my favorite non writing thing is dye work. I love taking blank white fabric and making it colorful. I just finished gathering all the supplies I need to do Shibori and Indigo dying like the Japanese artists do.
Writing wise I have to say my first series (Chrysalis series, Latent, Ascension, Interlude, Convergence, and Catalyst) is my favorite. It was my first real project and the first time I ever experienced those writing milestones, creating characters, finishing a draft, getting published and then finishing the series. I love all of my work, but Noble’s story is my favorite.
I have a few non-fiction books that I have produced that I am quite happy with as well. I have two how-to write books, one on structure and master chapter outline, one on writing series. I am working on a third how-to book on series bibles.
And I have two books written for middle grade age children 8-12 that teach manners in a fun way. They’re called Enchanted Etiquette, and Dragon Decorum.
During the course of all your writing and teaching what’s the funniest/most amazing/inspirational experience you’ve encountered?
I’ll have to go with amazing, I was teaching my structure class at a conference and as I started to teach the head editor of a big Utah publishing house came in and sat on the front row. I noticed them and kept teaching even though my heart rate had probably doubled. After that class they stopped me in the hallway and, in front of some of the conference organizers told me how much they enjoyed my class and wanted a copy of the slides to show their authors who struggle with structure. I was definitely flattered. That was the day I learned that I knew my “stuff” and that I was worthy of teaching it.
What’s the most interesting item you keep in your writing space?
After standing in my office for at least 15 minutes, (I have a lot of strange things in there) I would have to say my musical instruments especially because I am not musical at all. Yeah, definitely my drums and pentatonic flutes. Not traditional western drum set but hand- made drums of wood and rawhide. Hand carved wooden flutes tied with leather. (and a very cool western made “ocean drum” that I found at a thrift store.)
What’s next? What are you working on?
I am working on two series. I switch between them when I get blocked or need a break.
One is Storm Compass, a YA coming of age adventure about a boy who is born a nobody and how he just happens to save the world.
The other is my Trinity Operations series, It is about a group of people who organize and fight the powers that be, facing amazing odds against them to do so.
I am hoping to get these done by the end of this year to release this next year and the next.
About today’s guest:
C. Michelle Jefferies is a writer who believes that the way to examine our souls is to explore the deep and dark as well as the shallow. To manipulate words in a way that makes a person think and maybe even second guess. Her worlds include suspense, urban fantasy, and an occasional twist of steampunk. When she is not writing, she can be found on the yoga mat, hand binding journals, dyeing cloth, and serving ginger tea. The author and creator divides her time between stories, projects, and mothering four of her seven children on the wild and windy plains of Wyoming.
Description of Descending, book #1 in the Ashes series:
All he wants is to fly.
Ashby Standing has it all planned out. Prove his ability to captain a starship in the simulator. Then enter the Star Captain Academy a year early skipping another hellish year of being bullied at school.
When a new street drug proves fatal, taking the life of Elija’s son Nicolai. Noble has no choice but to step back into his role as an agent for Trinity. In spite of his age and his other duties. Including coordinating a twenty year celebration for the colonization of Caledonia.
After losing Arial, Lyris is hyper focused on making sure all of her children are safe nd protected. Even if it skirts what is legal or moral.
Everything converges into a complicated mess as moral obligations, desires, and ego’s battle for dominance and for some, descending into the depths of dark is the option seems the best choice. .
Someone slammed hard into Ashby Standing’s shoulder, forcing his chest into the cold metal of his locker as his cheek smashed into the chevron shaped vents at the top.
“Nice balance, four eyes, maybe you should get your ears checked as well,” Ashby’s personal bully, Mitchell, said. Laughter erupted from the students within hearing range. Ashby adjusted his glasses, more annoyed with their constant presence than the other student’s antics. The bully continued down the hall toward the science labs.
“What a freak,” another student whispered as they passed.
Ashby pushed himself away from the door and brushed his fingertip over the sensor to open his locker, then proceeded to place his books on the shelf and exchange his morning class notebooks for the afternoon ones. He was glad that Mitchell had moved on instead of making a bigger deal out of something.
“Ash!” Doran’s voice echoed off the metal. Ashby cringed at the nickname. He hated the burned and fire jokes that often came with it. Still, his eyebrow raised as his triplet brother, Doran, bolted down the hall toward him, followed by a few people in the far distance. Doran almost never called him Ash. Unless it was important. “Ash!” Doran pulled some object from his satchel.
Ashby sighed. Doran never learned. It seemed Ashby was forever doomed to be dragged into all sorts of problems by his brother.
“Oh no, absolutely not,” Ashby countered. “Dad said I didn’t have to help you.”
Doran panted as he shoved a black ball into Ashby’s hands. “Remember when I said that I thought the coaches were altering the dantu puck weight?”
“This is the proof.” Doran met Ashby’s gaze with a certain pleading. “Please. Ash. I need your help.”
“What do you want?”
“Hide it. Put it in your pack, no one is ever going to suspect you.” Doran begged.
Ashby put the ball on the shelf in his locker behind the large physics workbook, then set his English book on the top to hide it from sight.
“Mr. Doran Standing, what do you think you’re doing?”
Doran looked over his shoulder then ran.
“Wait, hold on,” the principal said as he slowed to a stop next to Ashby. One of the other teachers continued to follow his brother.
Ashby turned and raised an eyebrow. “Me?” He looked over his shoulder. Doran was gone from sight.